Seeking for a quiet place to study? Try Seekhana Study Hub Cafe

When all you want to hear are the noises of the bloody lessons you need to muster in school, then Seekhana Study Hub Cafe offers you a much-needed silence.

Since two of my best friends got into law school, it partly changed our taste in coffee shops where we hang out. We now choose coffee shops that are conducive for studying and reading rather than be spoiled in our usual chitchat-kind of bonding moments. In fact, one of them allowed me to go with them given that I should not talk. I eye-rolled okayed. Lol!

I am supportive though but my nocturnal tendencies often stimulate me to speak more. I become an impulsive storyteller, expressing every bit of nonsense in my head. I thought it is impossible I wouldn’t become a welcome distraction to them.

We turned to Seekhana Study Hub Café, a revolutionary coffee shop in Davao City that doesn’t only sell unlimited brewed coffee but a cozy space and peaceful atmosphere to complement one’s study routine or a day job’s overtime.

Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
I dare not read that book. But I had three cups of that unlimited coffee.

The culture shock was real. Noisy people will be penalized! Just kidding. LOL! They discourage noise and chatting as it may disturb other customers who need silence to finish their stuff. They are an antipode to the common environment of coffee shops – noisy, busy, and distractive among others.

Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Cubicles for introverts or extroverts who got tired of being one. Haha

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Aside from that, they are also a membership café. You don’t just sit there, order a latte, and proceed. Be a member by paying 749 pesos which can give forty (40) hours of usage, 999 pesos for sixty (60) hours, and 1,499 pesos for one hundred (100) hours. The membership is inclusive of usage freedom, unlimited coffee, free internet connection, and a plug-in of one gadget. You don’t have to use them at once though.

However, if you are the type that seldom needs tranquility in your endeavors, you can avail of their walk-in rates.  Your 100 pesos can be used for three (3) hours and an unlimited coffee while adding 50 pesos to it entitles you with additional, unlimited lemonade. Since they also decided to stay up late to cater those who need their place, staying there for twenty-four (24) hours only costs 200 pesos.

Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Ayusin mo pag-aaral dzae para discounted na ang notaryo ko. LOL!
Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Absorb what you read by taking a short break.
Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Ask the counter for their promos. You still have a lot avail!

Other amenities to support your study and work habits are meals and beverage, napping kits, power outlets, comfy seats and cubicles, printing, copying, and scanning services.

It was a game-changing café experience. They somehow achieved their visions. The place was well-lit and the people are accommodating. What only bothered me is that they did not have the heart for binge-eaters. Nyahaha. They should consider adding variety to their finger foods other than nachos.

Nonetheless, I got things done. My friends were able to study except that they can’t discuss as much as they wanted to. Well, it is just how it is. You have to adjust. After all, they want you to learn, in Hindi, “Seekhana”.

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You might want to try them; Seekhana Study Hub Café is located at Unit G & H, L36 &37, Blk. 10, Marfori Heights, Circumferential Road, Davao City. Their contact numbers are 287-3997 or 0943 229 1404. Follow and like their social media accounts for updates of their promos: Facebook (@Seekhanastudyhubcafe), Twitter (@seekhana_SHC), and Instagram (@seekhanastudyhubcafe).

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A Heart-touching Poem by a Soldier – A Tribute

It has been months after the war broke in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. And until now, our Philippine soldiers are still fighting for our freedom and peace, and for their lives.

I may have seen their struggles. But the intensity of fear and the quest to survive is greater to those who are on the ground than those who just witnessed their situation in media and social media. I can only empathize and say a prayer especially for the families of the soldier’s whose lives were short-lived.

My Facebook feed during the time the war was still fresh is depressing. You just can’t set aside watching or reading bad news whenever you feel somber. The news and testimonies of the unsung heroes are heartbreaking.

Soldiers in Marawi
Photo grabbed from New Marawi City Pulse Facebook Page

Just like the poem of a soldier that circulated the internet. According to FilTimes, the poem “A Heart-touching Poem By A Soldier” was seen posted by New Marawi City Pulse (@MaranaoPulse), a Facebook page of an organization that gives updates on the Marawi crisis. The post affected many netizens, reached millions, share after share. The chilling poem goes:

A HEART TOUCHING POEM BY A SOLDIER

If I die in a war zone,
Box me up and send me home,

Put my medals in my chest,
Tell my mom I did my best,

Tell my dad not to bow,
He won’t get tension from me now,

Tell my brother to study perfectly,
Keys of my bike will be his permanently,

Tell my sis not to be upset,
Her bro will not rise after this sunset,

Tell my love not to cry,
“BECAUSE I AM A SOLDIER BORN TO DIE”

Tragic, isn’t it?

But have you ever wondered who could have written this piece? Could a soldier in distress manage to pen a poem in the middle of a fight? Perhaps, but not in a breeze. Also, he would rather choose to head on to the battle than be engrossed to his Facebook. Of course, not. Someone has to write it for them.

My research did not yield me to its real author. The poem is shadowed with anonymity. But whoever wrote it, it is a snappy representation of what could be every soldiers’ farewell.

Just as how snappy this poem embodies their goodbye, we also give a snappy salute to all their courage and sacrifices in the battlefield in their quest to achieve world peace.

May victory be in their favor. May God, Allah bless them!

The Satiety of Satti (and more): A Taste of Tausug Delicacies in Zamboanga

The welcoming Zamboangeno vibe at the Zamboanga International Airport.
The welcoming Zamboangeno vibe at the Zamboanga International Airport.

Bienvenido a ciudad de Zamboanga!

I arrived in the city of Zamboanga as a side trip from my deployment in Jolo, Sulu. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel. In my first few months as a media relations officer in a government agency, I was able to reach the “Asia’s Latin City” in the Philippines – Zamboanga City. It is one of the cities that I have longed to visit, especially that some relatives of my father was in Zamboanga Peninsula, particularly Dipolog.

Our deployment really was in Jolo, Sulu. But because we failed to hitch transport that will bring us directly to the venue from Davao City, we flew to Zamboanga then took an 8-hour sea trip aboard a commercial ferry to Sulu. That was real quick because our schedule demands us to be at the venue ahead. But I and my co-officer promised to be back.

And so we did.

After the day’s work in a not-so-safe area, we hurriedly booked a commercial ferry ticket. Aside from the fear in staying longer in Jolo, it was the chance to go around Zamboanga that made me excited.

Our flight back to Davao is in the afternoon so we did not waste time as soon as we arrived in the city. Good thing we have the PIA in Zamboanga who served as our tour guides.  We went around the city and fed our eyes with the romantic view of breaking dawn at the port for a while and they introduced iconic spots in the city – the Fort Pilar, the markets, and the preserved Hispanic or European architecture of the City Hall among others They tell stories that made me realize how much I neglected listening to my history teachers. Some fast food establishments also willingly adapted its architectural designs, keeping the Spanish feel somehow consistent during the tour. That tour was also quick as we responded more to the growl of our tummies than to the hunger of our sense of sight.

And one way to make the most of your travel is to eat something original. So we ditched the fast food and turned to some of the famous Muslim delicacies. Zamboanga City can be considered a food haven as it offers its own iconic gut-fillers.

As soon as the morning breaks in Zamboanga, we headed to Jimmy’s Satti House in Pilar St., Zamboanga, Zamboanga Sibugay. Looked nothing modern in this seemingly carenderia but it is the home of the residents’ long-time favorite satti.

Jimmy's Satti Haus
Jimmy’s Satti Haus. Standing the test of time.

Satti, according to our friends from the PIA, is an ideal breakfast for Tausugs. It is beef, chicken meat or liver barbecue “swimming” in the pool of spicy, orange, viscous sauce with cubed rice. To someone who only thinks that sauce was just meant to be dipped on, the liberality of sauce in a plate was overwhelming. Now I understand why it is a favorite. But my co-worker find it too saucy, something she is not into. Oh well, you can’t please everybody.

Satti
The specialty, Satti.

For our lunch, we went to the rustic and cozy Dennis Coffee Garden seated in San Jose Road, Baliwasan, Zamboanga. It is a restaurant distinct in their focus on Tausug cuisine. Aside from that, they are promoting the Kahawa Sug, the authentic Sulu coffee.

Since there are a lot of us, we decided to order the resto’s food platter. If I am not mistaken, it is called Latal. The platter comprised of the mother of the Tausug dishes, the Tiula Itum.

Latal
Overloaded!

Tiula Itum is a spicy beef soup cooked with turmeric and blackened by burnt coconut flesh. In his article, the Sulu-born and Halal and Peace advocate in Zamboanga Peninsula Rezai Mijar described Tiula Itum as the “head of all viand”. “Without it at the center of a food tray, to some, it is incomplete,” he said in his blog, All Tausug. “Tiyula’ itum is a food that symbolizes the Tausug pride most likely the ethnic Buranun,” Mijar added. It is probably the reason why it is placed at the center of the platter. That’s cool!

Tiyulah Itum at Sitti's Halal Foods www.pinasmuna.com
Tiyulah Itum at Sitti’s Halal Foods http://www.pinasmuna.com

Another delicacy beside it is the Pastil. It is a pastry that looked like empanada except that it has bean sprouts or rice noodles as its fillings. The thing about this that intrigued me is its condiment. They said it is “suka” or vinegar. It looked like one, yes. But it doesn’t taste as sour as vinegar. So you can be generous in putting it on your pastil. In fact, the more you drench the food with its warm ‘vinegar’, it becomes tastier, more exciting to eat.

Pastil
Pastil

Next up is the Kulma or the beef curry in a skewer and the Tyula Sug or the beef soup cooked almost similarly to Tiula Itum.

Beef Kulma. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Beef Kulma. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Tyula Sug. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Tyula Sug. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com

Lastly for the viand is the Chicken Piyanggang. It is a spicy chicken dish with burnt coconut meat and coconut milk.

Chicken Piyanggang Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Chicken Piyanggang. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com

One distinct characteristic of the Tausug cuisine is the spicy taste and the use of burnt coconut, perhaps a manifestation of the Malaysian influence. Sulu in the Philippines is geographically a neighbor to Malaysia and Indonesia.

For the dessert that is not really light, we had the Juwalan (fried banana dipped in latik or caramelized coconut milk) and the Putli Mandi (sticky flour balls filled with bukayo, rolled in grated coconut). Burp!

Juwalan
Juwalan
Putli Mandi
Putli Mandi

I sealed my meal with a cup of hot chocolate which ultimately pleased my sweet tooth. We walked out the resto uber satisfied!

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate

Aside from the food places that offered authentic cuisines, we also tried some of the food hubs which were as old as like the pastry house Tsokolate.

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There are still a lot to discover in Zamboanga. I failed to try their famous Knickerbocker and the Curacha (deep-sea crab) in Alavar sauce among others. Our food trip was swift because of our flight schedule. But it was already a well-cherished, satiating cultural gastronomic adventure one should not miss. I am definitely going back! Who’s with me?

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Other sources:

Where to? Don Marcelino!

I recently returned to my hometown, the municipality of Don Marcelino in the province of Davao Occidental to spend my Holy Week. Far from the municipality I have known and grown up with for years, Don Marcelino has gradually exhibited signs of rural development since its separation from Davao del Sur on October 28, 2013 along with four other municipalities.

Transportation in Don Marcelino
A new addition to my hometown’s transportation system.

One evidence is the improvement of the transportation system. Residents of the municipality recently had this motorized vehicle as a new addition to the habal-habal (motor) and tricycle they use for transport. It has been used to brings passengers to and from the province’s capital-Municipality of Malita, a one-hour or less far from Don Marcelino. Malita also utilized this as a public transportation.

Aside from transportation, the municipality of Don Marcelino has taken the initiative of promoting tourist spots such as white sand beaches and waterfalls. Large tarpaulins of its photos welcome visitors as soon as you arrive in the place. Many people from neighboring communities have been visiting these hometown treasures but only now that it made some noise. I personally am familiar with some of them but I was not able to visit them.

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Selling vegetables and fish was my family’s primary source of income. These are the main livelihood of the people of Don Marcelino. 

I will not be surprised if there will be an increase of visitors to the place in the future. And it is not far that these spots will become one of the area’s economic drivers because, why not? As long as it is maintained and protected from abuse, we will continue to enjoy the beauty and the thrill it offers for a lifetime. I am definitely including this on my bucket list. It would be a pleasure to get to know deeper my own home. Most especially that coming here is becoming incredibly easy!

So, where to? Don Marcelino.

PS: I will update this post as soon as I will be able visit its potential tourist spots!PhotoGrid_1492171468592.png

Roundabout San Pedro: A Photowalk at Davao City’s Convergence District

San Pedro is an area in Davao City named after one of the notable and historic churches in the city, San Pedro Cathedral. Even the streets around this place were tagged with St. Peter’s name.

For more than six years of living here in the Crown Jewel of the South, I consider this as one of my favorite tourist destination around the city. I find it the most picturesque, probably because of the church settled here possessed a distinct and bold vinta-shaped architecture with a cross atop. It is also where the seats of local authority can be found, the City Hall of Davao and the Sangguniang Panlungsod, which are surrounded by parks too. It is the easiest to access since most of the jeepneys passes here. It is the first thing people think when they hear the word “downtown”. Thus, people of different social statusesand beliefs flock here for trade, personal appointments, leisure, family bonding, worship among others. In other words, a melting pot. No wonder, the district is always alive, teeming with life from sleepless people.

I have been going back and forth its streets, doing just as most people do, either to transact with government offices or kill time in its parks. I have witnessed how active and busy it is during the day and how tranquil yet mysterious it is come night. And it has stories waiting to be told. I don’t know but the place seems to have a natural charm that draws me to it. In one of my idle times, I took the chance to go around and take few photos of my favorite spot in the city – San Pedro. It is an actualization of Davao City’s catch phrase: “Life Is Here

In case you happen to include this in your travel itinerary, don’t forget to tag me. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Some of the photos were processed with a filter for added effect and mood. 

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Shots were taken using Oppo Neo 7. Additional information about San Pedro can be found here:

San Pedro Cathedral, a witness to the tales of a city, then and now, Davao Today (www.davaotoday.com)

SAN PEDRO CATHEDRAL: The Beacon of Davao’s Catholic Faith, The Travel Teller (www.thetravelteller.com)

What is your favorite part of Davao City? Send me your photo and be featured here!

MMFF 2016 | Mga Bitoon sa Siyudad: A Tribute to Davao’s Resilience

For the second time around, Davaoeno director Jarell Mahinay Serencio contributed something special to the film industry after his latest craft “Mga Bitoon sa Syudad” (Stars in the City) became an official entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

His first was the short film Victor which was adjudged as the Best Film in the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in 2012.

His latest short film, Mga Bitoon sa Syudad was inspired by the recent bombing in his hometown’s well-known night market, the Roxas Night Market in Davao City.

In the five-minute film, Mac-Mac (9) and Oliver (12) takes you closer to their life as Roxas boys who serenades patrons of the night market to earn for their studies, helping their father who works as a masseur. In one of their nights, Mac-mac discovered that he lost some of his money. Oliver returned to where they were in the hope of finding the penny, leaving Mac Mac for a while and assured his return. After a few minutes, a loud explosion was heard. The scene in the night market became chaotic but Mac Mac patiently waited for his brother.

“As a human being I feel so much pain for all the innocent victims of all the terrorist attacks around the world most especially to all children who died and suffered from trauma,” he said. “Countless families lost a loved one, mothers who lost a child, a child who lost a parent and brothers who lost a brother.”

Serencio just lost his father due to a prolonged illness.

“When it happened here in my beloved hometown, Davao City, I could not contain the terrible emotion I felt on that day after hearing the news about the Roxas Night Market bombing. I feel that I should do something to contribute in condemning terrorism. As a filmmaker, I was inspired to tell the story of innocent victims that focuses on the lives of kids serenading the people in Roxas Night Market,” he added.

The short film, he said, is his tribute to those people who just wanted to survive day-to-day but have now become victims of terror attacks. “I also want this film to be a tribute to their families who were left behind.”

The resilience of the Davaoenos also fueled him to produce the film.

“This act of terrorism in my city has never shaken the faith of Davaoenos to stand again and go on with their lives. We remain strong and optimistic amidst the continuing threat to the city. That alone is something I can be proud of as a Davaoeno.”

“To my fellow Davaoenos, I urge all of us to stand strong as a community, let us remain vigilant and steadfast in helping one another especially during times of tragedies.  We need to move forward but we need not forget the people whose lives and life stories have been cut short prematurely,” he said in a statement.

With its recent participation in the Metro Manila Film Festival, the strength of the Davaoenos will now be trumpeted to the whole nation.

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Direk Jarell Serencio with the cast

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Mga Bitoon sa Siyudad is a short film written, directed and produced by Jarell Serencio — former head researcher of ABS CBN’s famous anthology “Maalaala Mo Kaya.”  It is shown together with ORO, a full length film directed by Alvin Yapan and starring Joem Bascon, Irma Adlawan and Mercedes Cabral. You can catch both films here in Davao City at SM Lanang Premier, NCCC Mall of Davao, and Gaisano Mall of Davao (GMall). Just look for its full-length partner, ORO.

There are officially 8 shorts and 8 full length films at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival which are in cinemas starting December 25.

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EARWORM: Million Reasons | Lady Gaga

I first heard Lady Gaga performed “Million Reason” in the latest Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Paris.

But I was not distracted by the Victoria’s Secret Angels who walked down the runway in a lingerie (of course, because I am a gay, duh! LOL) and Mother Monster was not in her bold and deviant costume.

I was drawn by the lyrics. The message is so strong and honest and empowering that it compliments the girls strutting down the stage. The words are uplifting, motivating, inspiring, and prayerful accented by her powerful vocals. The two former are her trademark though but the latter is, in my opinion, a deviation (compared to her previous pop songs like Judas, Alejandro and some others). Her belting just added a conviction to every strucking line in it.

The song, Million Reasons was recorded by Lady Gaga as part of her latest album, Joanne (2016). Long before it reverberated in Paris, it was first heard on the radio stations. Gaga further promoted the songs in several concert venues of her Drive Bar Tour, a promotional concert series last October 5 this year.

Gaga categorized the “Million Reasons” as “a country song mixed with funk and rock ‘n’ roll. You would never imagine it would sound that way… the feeling underneath the record is it’s almost got like a little bit of a hip-hop feeling. But at the same time, it’s not a hip-hop song. It’s kind of like I just had no boundaries making music — and neither do any of the other people we were working with. It was kind of like what feels right, what hits the best, what’s going to get everybody in their stomach and their heart,” the singer”.

And she just nailed that! Its lyrics seemingly awaken every hidden emotion and thoughts I refused to admit to myself and have long been buried into the depths of my consciousness. It is telling me to go on with life, no matter what. It is telling me to be strong and not to stop. Finally, it says, “Have Faith!” This is a good hear, a good recommendation when you are troubled right now with whatever problems, insecurities there is.

Million Reasons

You’re giving me a million reasons to let you go
You’re giving me a million reasons to quit the show
You’re givin’ me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasonsIf I had a highway, I would run for the hills
If you could find a dry way, I’d forever be still
But you’re giving me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasons
I bow down to pray
I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way
To cut through all his worn out leather
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay
Head stuck in a cycle, I look off and I stare
It’s like that I’ve stopped breathing, but completely aware
‘Cause you’re giving me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasons
And if you say something that you might even mean
It’s hard to even fathom which parts I should believe
‘Cause you’re giving me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasons
I bow down to pray
I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way
To cut through all his worn out leather
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay
Hey, ehh, ehh, eyy
Baby I’m bleedin’, bleedin’
Stay, ehh, ehhy
Can’t you give me what I’m needin’, needin’
Every heartbreak makes it hard to keep the faith
But baby, I just need one good one
Good one, good one, good one, good one, good one
When I bow down to pray
I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way
To cut through all this worn out leather
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one, good one
Tell me that you’ll be the good one, good one
Baby, I just need one good one to stay

“Every heartbreak makes it hard to keep the faith
But baby, I just need one good one…reason to stay”

One good and beautiful addition to our music repertoire.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Reasons
http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Lady_Gaga:Million_Reasons